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Study: Pastors Say ‘Apathy’ Is a Major Challenge Facing American Churches

You hear a lot about angry Christians, arguing about who’s right and who’s wrong and no doubt, that’s bad for the Church. But a new survey of pastors suggests they’re more worried about people who don’t care much at all. LifeWay Research found that apathy is the “primary people dynamic challenge” they face in their jobs.

The survey broke down different challenges facing pastors today, and 75 percent of Protestant pastors said “apathy or lack of commitment” is a challenge facing their congregation. “Developing leaders and volunteers” and “fostering connections with unchurched people” were the only issues that ranked higher for pastors.

On the other hand, almost half (48 percent) of pastors say their congregation’s “strong opinions about non-essentials” were a major challenge, as is resistance to change (46 percent) and political views (44 percent).  About 35 percent say a chief challenge is feeling like people have unrealistic expectations of their pastor.

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It’s all part of LifeWay’s big 2022 Greatest Needs of Pastors study, which is full of interesting anecdotes not only about the issues facing pastors, but also giving a bird’s eye view of the state of a church in flux. “These challenging people dynamics all affect the unity within a local church,” said Scott McConnell, the executive director of LifeWay Research.. “Unity matters greatly to Christ as seen in his prayer for his followers in John 17. Many things can disrupt that unity and one of the most common is not outright disagreement but silently abstaining from what the church is doing together.”

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